Essay on The Contrasting Nature Of Love Explored In Toni Morrison's Beloved

Essay on The Contrasting Nature Of Love Explored In Toni Morrison's Beloved

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In her novel Beloved, Toni Morrison explores the paradoxical nature of love both as a dangerous presence that promises suffering and a life-giving force that gives the strength to proceed; through the experiences of the run-away slave Sethe. The dangerous aspect of love is revealed through the comments of Paul D and Ella regarding the motherly love of Sethe towards her children. Sethe's deep attachment to her children is deemed dangerous due to their social environment which evidently promises that the loved one of a slave will be hurt. On the other hand, love is portrayed as a sustaining force that allows Sethe to move on with her life. All the devastating experiences Sethe endures do not matter due to the fact that she must live for her children. Although dangerous, Sethe's love finally emerges as the prevalent force that allows her to leave the past behind and move on with her life.
The dangerous aspect of Sethe's love is first established with the comments of Paul D regarding her attachment to Denver. At page 54, when Sethe refuses to hear Paul D criticize Denver, he thinks: "Risky, thought Paul D, very risky. For a used-to-be-slave woman to love anything that much was dangerous(…)" he deems Sethe's attachment dangerous because he believes that when "(…) they broke its back, or shoved it in a croaker sack (…)" having such a strong love will prevent her from going on with her life. Paul D's remarks indicate that evidently the loved one of a slave is taken away. Mothers are separated from their children, husbands from their wives and whole families are destroyed; slaves are not given the right to claim their loved ones. Having experienced such atrocities, Paul D realizes that the deep love Sethe bears for her daughter will onl...


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...at has been denied and not passed on. She reminds us of the inclination to forget the past and the impossibility of dealing with a silenced history. Morrison intends to ensure the sensitive and responsible conveyance of a history of suffering and to this end her use of parallelism between Paul D and Ella, the symbolisms and the employment of a loaded language, explore the two aspects of love. The contrasting aspects come together at the end to emerge as a united statement underlying the life-giving force of love. The powerful display of the role of love in the lives of the characters, the role it plays in keeping them going is intended to add to the impact of the novel. As a universal concept, love constitutes the best device to communicate the atrocities the negro slaves have faced and serves Morrison's intention to make the reader never forget this shameful history.

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